I strongly object to the letter from Tom Leyden ’77 and Zach Goldstein ’05 calling for the deplatforming of the reunion speakers who questioned climate change alarmism. I did not attend the panel and am no expert on the science, so my point is not to argue who has the better side of the debate. My issue is with the letter writers’ becoming like Inquisitors, saying, in effect, that they know they are right, and that false ideas need to be expelled from polite discourse.
When I was an undergrad, I attended a forum on abortion at Princeton. One of the speakers defending abortion asserted that the baby “comes together from parts in the sixth month of pregnancy.” So far as I am aware, it did not occur to anyone that this speaker’s appalling ignorance of biology and human development should serve as a grounds for having Princeton censor her for “deny[ing] basic reality,” or to suppress her “absurd proposition” to stop “disinformation” from “metastasiz[ing]” — as Leyden and Goldstein would have it. No, her embarrassing lack of knowledge should have been, if anything, a spur for the program organizers on her side to pick a more well-informed representative in future events.
Just so, here. If the panelists questioning the currently regnant climate change view were not the best representatives of their position, that is a problem for them and their supporters to solve, not Princeton.